I kind of hate to say this, but I think my best writing comes from another place totally beyond my control, my life, my consciousness. I’m talking about the kind of writing I read back the next day and think ‘where the **** did that come from?!’ (in a good way, I mean).
I know I have flashes of brilliance in my creative writing: times when I’m in awe of the written word to convey a feeling, a moment, a heartbeat. But those flashes are little chinks of light in what can sometimes feel like a dark cave of inane drivel and self-obsessed tosh.
Getting out of the way
I’ve realised that my best writing comes when I get out of the way. ‘I’ being the flesh and blood body I live in that has constraints, foibles and weaknesses. What comes through is another when I’m out of the way is a flow that melts onto my page as if it was meant.
I’ve been thinking of ways I can describe this, and it’s like steam clearing on a shower-room mirror to reveal words that someone has written with their damp fingertips. Or like a scratchcard that has the words already printed below. My job, as a writer, is just to rock up at my laptop and scratch away the surface with my typing to reveal the truth and beauty within.
When I write like this – and it’s for copywriting as well as creative writing projects – it’s as though the writing is THROUGH me, not OF me. It’s as though my human body isn’t enough to produce writing that good. When I write consciously and labour over every word, the passion and the creativity aren’t there.
But this inspiration – or flow, or higher power, or unconscious mind, or whatever you want to call it – is fleeting. It has a fragility that could be caught in a whisper and blown away in the breeze.
I’m convinced that creativity isn’t meant to be laboured. It comes naturally, as easily as breathing. Left to my own devices, I’ll be as creative as you like. Asked to ‘be creative on demand’ in a meeting, and my mind goes blank. Being in flow is a natural state where something bigger than me takes over. The writing comes. Beautifully. Majestically. Effortlessly.
I hesitate to call myself an ‘artist’, because I think that sounds rather grand and imperious for what I do, which is sit at my Mac all day. (When my daughter was about three and she was asked what mummy’s work was, she replied that ‘mummy types words’.) I love that description of what I do. No more than typing words onto a screen. It has a mindful quality to it, a groundedness that anchors all those thoughts and feelings flying around in my body. It nails them to the page.
However, leaving my feelings about the word ‘artist’ aside for a moment, I think this quote from Carl Jung sums up in a soundbite what I’ve been trying to describe over the last 500 words:
“The artist is not a person endowed with free will,who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realise its purpose through him.”
I feel writing is my purpose. At least, my whole life is organised around my writing. And I feel totally blessed and humbled with a gift to get myself out of the way and let the creative energy flow.
Now, if only I could bottle it and spray it on just at those moments when I need inspiration.